‘Ramy’ on Hulu: Expertly proving that there are still fresh ideas in the seemingly tired setting of New York City, this new series co-created by star Ramy Youssef is one of the funniest, most vibrant new shows of the year, not only for its portrayals of the navigating questions of faith and differences between generations in a Muslim family, but also for how exceptional the show is at doing it. With fellow comic Jarrod Carmichael as executive producer, the show offers not just visibility and understanding for an unfortunately maligned group in our country, but also tells a very human, very funny story.
The Art Ensemble of Chicago’s ‘We Are On the Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration’: No one group has cast a longer shadow in jazz than this shape-shifting collective, who take a well-deserved victory lap with this rich, double-disc album released this week. As could be expected for an ensemble that’s nurtured wide-open creation from Lester Bowie and Malachi Favors, along with inspiring modern stars such as Nicole Mitchell and Vijay Iyer, the album is less a look back than another in a line of releases that continue driving forward, most affectingly on a live recording from last year that beautifully testifies to the group’s uncompromisingly expressive, genre-busting ethos.
The narrative twist to ‘Game of Thrones’: Spoilers ahead, in case you’re brave enough to read about pop culture days after the biggest show on TV airs, but the way “Game of Thrones” handled what had been built up as its biggest conflict doesn’t bode well. In wiping out the Night King’s army in 82 minutes last Sunday, the show not only resisted its signature ruthlessness toward beloved characters, but also negated its “real enemy.” Its final fight, it seems, will be about royal rule after all. The series may yet meet expectations, but a potentially anticlimactic finish feels even colder than Winter. And, sadly, more real.
Celebrity rabbit ears: As far as comedy gigs go, the Weekend Update desk at “Saturday Night Live” is a peak that reaches above most criticism. And yet, Michael Che is among a number of celebrities who are social media avengers against negative reviews, most recently after an article examined why some people don’t like his “Update” partner, Colin Jost. The internet is a great leveler, where truly everyone can be a critic, but Che’s policy of aggrieved and immediate response seems better suited to the stage. Lashing out against commentary you don’t agree with doesn’t make anyone funnier. It makes them a heckler.
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